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DASH to This Diet

Do you know your blood pressure? Is it normal, high or in between?

Normal blood pressure usually is defined as 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) or lower. High blood pressure is defined as 140/90 mmHg. “Prehypertension” is a new term being used for those people with blood pressure readings between normal and high. People with prehypertension are more likely to progress to having high blood pressure.

sphygmomanometerHigh blood pressure often is called the “silent killer” because you may have no symptoms. High blood pressure puts you at greater risk for stroke and heart attacks because it makes your heart work harder. High blood pressure also may damage the health of your eyes, brain and kidneys.

If you do not know your blood pressure, be sure to get it checked by a health professional.

Although the word “diet” may make you think of losing weight, the DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is a heart-healthy diet.

The diet is backed by many clinical studies and national health-promoting groups.

The DASH diet is lower in sodium than the typical American diet and higher in potassium-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. It also is rich in calcium from low-fat or fat-free dairy foods (such as milk and yogurt). Potassium and calcium are  involved in the process of muscle contractions, including your all-important heart muscle.

Recent health guidelines recommend that we limit the amount of sodium in our diet, so be a Nutrition Facts label reader. Compare the sodium content of different brands of the same products.

Check out the guide to the DASH diet from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at

This project is supported by the Rural Health & Safety Education Competitive Grant Program of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), grant number 2013-46100-21467.

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